In Praise of Job Evaluation

by Edwin Beal



For more than a quarter of a century, job evaluation plans based on the point or factor comparison methods of suiting the pay to the job have enjoyed unquestioning acceptance. For almost as long, behavioral scientists have been investigating the traditional assumptions that underlie management practice. Almost as indifferent to the premises and logic of job evaluation are those whose daily affairs it directly touches. They practice it; they simply accept it. This article aims, first, to evaluate the plan psychologist Elliott Jacques puts forward and see whether his claims are valid and, second, to review the rationale of job evaluation as it is exemplified in the currently popular systems. The two aims will be pursued together rather than separately, so as to get the benefit of comparison and contrast. Job evaluation supplants guesswork methods of setting wages and salaries. It substitutes objective, measurable criteria for "feel." Admittedly, there is an irreducible minimum of plain human judgment in the best of plans, but it is pooled judgment, systematically applied and recognized for what it is and the poorest-managed of plans works better than the random arrangements that went before.

California Management Review

Berkeley-Haas's Premier Management Journal

Published at Berkeley Haas for more than sixty years, California Management Review seeks to share knowledge that challenges convention and shows a better way of doing business.

Learn more
Follow Us